Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Be Less Controlling

Controllers attempt to manipulate the behavior of others. They want things "just so." It helps them feel secure. Controllers are preoccupied with the actions of others.

Controllers carry a LOT of stress. Not only are they concerned with their choices, but they BELIEVE others should think (and act) like them. While we can influence someone, we can't force them to act a certain way.

A controller can't allow other people to be themselves. Deep down, a controller wants people to follow an image of what society projects. What's wrong with this picture is that people aren't an image of who we want them to be. They are who they are. If you're a controller who's tied to an image, you're in trouble.

The solution is to make allowances that people see things differently. The more you adjust, the less stress you'll have. You can probably guess that controllers are a bitch to be around. You can probably guess that most people don't like to be controlled. Why? It's a turn off!

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Soaking It Up

Do you soak up your moments? Are you even aware of them? I'm talking about those special moments with family and friends?

Many times we're not even PRESENT in them. They come and go. Many of them are precious. But we're so caught up in other things that we lose sight of the fact that they'll be OVER; they'll never come back.

I know this may sound maudlin and depressing but you only have today to do it; to soak up the moment.

When you make a conscious effort to "soak it up" something cool happens. You let go of people and places that don't matter. You cherish the moments that do matter.

Let go of the stuff that doesn't matter. Learn to "soak it up."

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 23)

Here are 3 ways to accept constructive criticism: 1) don't refuse it, 2) consider it a kindness and 3) keep quiet when it is given to you. Putting these suggestions into practice will help you control how you react to criticism, making it productive rather than destructive, no matter how it was originally intended.

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Friday, December 12, 2014


I have respect for micro-managers. You know the type -- doing a number of tasks at once. Women are more prone to do this. But, I'm sure a lot of men do it too. It LQQKS good on the surface but I wonder of they're FULLY present in what they do.

When you're micro-managing, you're PUMPED. I have to get this done, and this done, and this done, NOW. When you're scrambling all about, it's hard to concentrate. We're pre-occupied in getting EVERYTHING done. It's easy to get stressed out and agitated.

As an experiment, slow down with your thoughts and actions. You'll be surprised at how relaxed and effective you are. Your thinking and listening skills will become sharper. You'll get more accomplished and feel more productive.

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

My Chilling Connection To God

I believe we all learn differently. Some of us are visual or auditory learners. We learn best either by seeing something or hearing it. I’m a visual learner. Show me something a couple of times and I’m able to commit it to memory. I’m totally screwed when anything happens through my auditory channel. If I’m on the phone and someone is explaining something new to me; I panic. Without the visual cues, I’m lost.

Surprisingly, my connection to God, or The Holy Spirit, is not through my visual, or auditory channel. It’s through my goose bump channel. Have you ever had an experience where a “moment of truth” gave you goose bumps? Those goose bump moments are what I consider my Chilling Connection To God. When they happened years ago, I never really paid attention. When they happen now, I tune in and say “Oh, Oh, God is trying to tell me something.” In many cases, it’s like an electrical current running up and down  my body. It’s hard to miss. When it happens now, I ask God “God, is that you talking to me?” If the goose bumps happen afterwards, I know it’s God or The Holy Spirit. This chilling connection ALWAYS occurs when I’m at a fork in the road.

The Bible says that God speaks to us in specific ways. I understand that to mean that God/Holy Spirit/Universe speaks to us in “code” -- a line in a movie, a passage in a book, the wisdom from a friend. And sometimes, those messages can be chilly.

What’s important is whether or not you’re paying attention.

Question for you: Can you identify the specific ways God speaks to you?

Focus: God, spirit, communication, spiritual connection, spirituality, faith

Monday, December 1, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 22)

Talk is cheap, but our words lack meaning if our actions do not back them up. You can say that you support something but if you are not taking practical steps to demonstrate that support, your words are empty and meaningless. How well do your actions back up what you say?

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Charge It!

Before we entered the age of technology, we had to learn things the hard way. Think of how cars were made. If you left your headlights on, your battery died and you had to get someone to give you a jump.

Just like that battery; we forget that our OWN supply of energy has to be replenished, namely through sleep, rest, food and relaxation. Busy/non-stop days can be draining. When you operate at TOP speed, you run the risk of your energy being consumed.

Unless you pay attention to your human battery, you will drain it to the point of being dead on your feet. When you're fatigued, you cause your perceptions to be distorted; consequently, your responses to others can be negative.

Take a break (or a series of them) throughout the day. Charge (or recharge) your emotional - spiritual - psychological battery so that you're more productive and content.

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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Goal Setting

Did you know that setting a goal is a statement of faith? I didn’t either. Every day, I get a devotional. It’s a short narrative that sets the standard for your day. For me, they’re helpful. I couldn’t get through my day without them. This post was inspired by Rick Warren who believes that any goal that is set, is set in FAITH. Put the spiritual reference aside, and look at the acronym >> FAITH.

F >> FOCUSED. Your goals have to be specific. If you use general words ( i.e. more or less) than the goal doesn’t have a strong foundation or intention.

A >> ATTAINABLE. If you set an unrealistic goal; it’s just going to discourage you. Set a goal that s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-s you.

I >> INDIVIDUAL. Your goal HAS to be personal and about you. The only person you can change is yourself.

T >> TRACKABLE. A goal  that is specific is TRACKABLE and can be measured. They’re verifiable. Here’s an example: By January 10th, I will accomplish _____.

H >> HEARTFELT. Your goals have to be heartfelt. You have to have a DEEP desire to do it. If you don’t, don’t do it.

Wishes are a dime a dozen. The only way to have a purpose, is to set a FAITH goal.

Question for you: What current  goal needs your FAITH?
Focus: Spirit, wellness, life

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 21)

There is a mental sharpness that comes from being around good, quality people. A meeting of the minds can help people see their ideas with new clarity, refine them, and shape them into brilliant insights. This requires discussion partners who can challenge each other and stimulate thought -- people who focus on the idea without involving their egos in the discussion; people who know how to attack the thought and NOT the thinker. Two friends who bring their ideas together can help each other become sharper!

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Rapport and You!

Rapport is overlooked but it's critical to personal and professional success. Establishing rapport contributes to a more relaxed way of being. It helps to establish long term relationships that are based on honesty and integrity. Rapport assists you in bringing out the best in you and others.

When you lack a sense of rapport, you lack TRUST. For whatever reason, you don't click. Without rapport, you come across as condescending or arrogant. Sometimes, you can't put your finger on it, you just know that something is missing.

The key to rapport is to make the other person you're with, feel as though they're the most important person in your life. You want to be present with them. Note that when you "fake it," people feel it.

If you take the time and energy  to establish a sincere rapport with people, your life WILL change. You'll have a better connection with people. You'll create more nourishing interactions. You'll be trusted, and far more effective, when dealing with others.

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Just One Thing!

Resolutions are self-promises we’ve ALL made (i.e. I’ll start an exercise program.I’ll be more careful with money.) Unless you’re really good with time management and diligence; you’ve probably failed repeatedly.

Most of us have good intentions. Those good intentions are ideas we have that motivate us to set and achieve goals. BUT, I’m going to  suggest a new way to set goals >> talk to God about it, and only do 1 goal at a time. O.K. I get the “Can you put God on hold for this blog piece?”  O.K., you’ve got a point. Let’s try a different approach. Instead of talking to God about it; go for a walk or set aside some “quiet time” to see what your “gut or inner voice” says. Let that force be your GPS to the one thing that you KNOW is important to bettering yourself. Maybe, you’re struggling with an addiction (i.e. food, drugs) or maybe your marriage needs a new direction with some positive energy?

Maybe another way to determine a goal is to ask yourself, “What one thing do I lack that I really want?” If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll know what’s missing -- character, integrity, compassion or kindness.

Maybe you need to ask yourself what one thing do you need to let go of? If you’re moving forward but feeling dissatisfied, you may be holding on to a belief that you’re carrying from your past. You can’t dwell in the past; you HAVE to forgive, forget and move on!

Keeping resolutions can be frustrating for some, but if you focus on:
1) Getting clear with what your conscience tells you. 2) Focusing on something you lack, that can act as a catalyst for change. 3) Letting go of something that’s kept you from moving forward. You’ll have a different paradigm or game plan for changing the direction of your life.

Question for you: What one issue have you struggled with that this blog piece can help you break-through?
Focus: Life, game plan, self-esteem, goal setting, spirit, healing

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 20)

Times of trouble can be useful. They can show you who you really are, and what kind of character you have. In addition, they can help you grow stronger. It's not a sign of weakness to ask for advice. Find good advisers before making any decision. They can help you expand your alternatives and evaluate your choices.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ya Gotta Have Friends

You know you've gotta have friends                                         
The feeling's oh so strong
You've gotta have friends
To make that day last long        

I had some friends but they're gone
Something came and took them away

Bette Midler is famous for her friends song. For many of us, friends are our family (or are our 2nd family). Our friends provide us with a special kind of support that we just can't get from our family.

We all need friends who will stick close, listen, care and offer help when it is needed (in good times and in bad). It is better to have one such friend then dozens of superficial acquaintances. Instead of wishing you could find a true friend; seek to become one.

Forgiveness is essential for friendship to flourish. Friendship involves attitudes and actions. If you find it difficult to forgive someone who has hurt you, try responding with kindness. If appropriate, tell the person that you would like to heal your relationship. Lend a helping hand. Send him or her a gift. Smile at them. Many times, you will discover that right actions lead to right feelings.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Importance Of A Mentor

I BELIEVE that all of us need mentors. They can be people who plant a seed; or those who stay to water it, and watch it flourish. Whether it’s someone who plants or one who waters; both are essential. Why? Because, we all need our own cheering section. Unless we’re encouraged CONSISTENTLY, we’re unable to reach our God-given potential.

Mentors can be family or friends. They can be living or dead. They can be famous or not. What’s important is that you get one. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll accomplish with someone who inspires you.

I have 2 mentors -- Barbra Streisand and Oprah Winfrey. Both have taught/inspired me to do great things. But, it’s Barbra who’s helped me the most on my journey.

I grew up in a family that was emotionally, psychologically and spiritually broken. My parents grew up and survived The Great Depression. They came together and married. I don’t think they loved each other. I think they married and had kids because that was the thing to do. Why do I bring this up? Because, when you have broken people coming together, they don’t have the skills to validate each other, or their kids. Consequently, all the family members flounder for lack of direction.

When I was 11, my mom was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. To hear her talk, “The doctor said my heart is the size of a football. I have 6 months to live.” I can’t imagine what went through her mind, knowing that she had 2 kids (11 and 9 respectively) to raise; knowing full well that my dad didn’t have the capacity or skills to do it alone.

ENTER my Aunt Emily >> my mom was always tight with my Aunt “Mimi” (as we called her). She was in my life since I was a baby. I know that behind closed doors, my mom asked my aunt to be my long-term care giver. Without missing a beat, my aunt said “yes.” My aunt did something really cool for me that summer. She introduced me to film. She created a special time for us that involved spending the day downtown.  That first summer, I noticed the poster for Funny Girl. I asked her if she would take me to see the film when it opened. She did and the rest is history. From 11 on to adulthood, I was attracted to Barbra Streisand and what she did. Whether it was a new album or film, I was drawn to her work. What is strange about all of this is, I didn’t know why! (On one level, I liked her journey. She grew up poor, and made something of herself. She never compromised her “look.” When she was told “no,” she kept pressing forward. I liked that about her.) On another level, I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. It seemed that everytime I was at a crossroads, a piece of her work would “speak” to me and inevitably guide me to a positive outcome.

It was only when I was in my 30’s did I realize that she was my mentor. I had heard the word “mentor” but had no idea the importance of one, on our lives. At this stage of my life, her presence still guides me. I look at challenges this way, “If Barbra did it and was successful, so can I!”

A “mentor” encourages and inspires us. I believe that we all need them. We all need validation. Without validation,we flounder. We have no direction. When you have a mentor that challenges you, you move forward on your life path!

Question for you: Are you stuck with your life purpose? Maybe you need a mentor? Who is someone that you are drawn to? 

Focus: Communication, mentor, spirit, life purpose

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Your Body Of Work!

Many people look forward to retirement. When they finally get there; they don't know how to enjoy it. They recognize they were working, just to get a pay check and get by. Realistically, life passed them by. They lost sight and perspective of being/living in the moment!

Starting today, take a much more productive/positive approach to your life. LQQK at each day as an opportunity to create your own personal body of work. A body of work is more than the things (i.e. awards or achievements) that many consider important. A body of work involves people.

Start with the people that are close to you >> family, friends, colleagues. Spend time with them. Value them for who they are. Share experiences with them. Value them for who they are. Build relationships that endure; that have substance. People are what matter to you, far more than possessions. Start there!

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 19)

There is a great difference between the person who learns from criticism and the person who refuses to accept correction. How we respond to criticism determines whether or not we grow in wisdom. The next time someone criticizes you, listen carefully to all that is said, you might learn something.

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Celebrate Your Life!

A couple of months before my 50th birthday, I had a chance to see Barbra Streisand in concert. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was. Seeing my mentor in concert was a dream come true. A bigger  dream would’ve been to have a meal with her; get her thoughts on spirituality, and thank her for being (albeit far away) my mentor. Alas, that didn’t happen. But that dream got me thinking about gratitude and inspiration.

As the months clicked closer to my 50th birthday, I thought long and hard how I wanted to celebrate it. Did I want a BIG party? Yeah, that would’ve been nice but that would’ve only been 1 moment. Did I want to travel? No, not really. When it came down to the nitty-gritty; I wanted to do something that I would really remember. It was then, that I decided to take the ENTIRE year to celebrate my life. I decided to have private 1-1 celebrations with people who inspired me. 

Once I had the idea, I wondered whether it would take off. I mean, that is a whole year. Would I have/find enough people to have those celebrations? I started with a list of people who had touched my life in the past, and in the present. As I compiled the list, I noticed qualities or behaviors that were specific to each person. Some people were kind, some wise, some mentors. The list exploded! I was still on the bubble with this idea. I really didn’t know how to approach it, until 1 day I visited my alma mater, St. Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois. I visited the education department and on that day were 2 professors who helped guide me to finish my master’s thesis. I respected both of them and I believed they needed to hear how they impacted life. I went up to each of them and simply asked, “Will you come out and celebrate with me? Both said, “yes” but never asked why. We coordinated dates and VOILA, my idea took flight. When I met with them individually, I shared my birthday intention and then shared why I wanted to celebrate.

I can’t tell you how these 2 celebrations changed my life. Telling them “thank you for your inspiration” was the best moment (for them and for me).

In total, I had 25 celebrations with so many people. Was it emotional? YES! Was it personally fulfilling? YES! Would I do it again? You bet!

Want to do something grandiose and FUN? Spend a year celebrating your life with people who inspire you. (You can do it for any birthday!)You will remember it forever!

Question for you: What is stopping you from celebrating your life?

Focus: Communication, intimacy, spirit, friendship, fun

Friday, September 19, 2014

Cant's and Cans

Watch Your Can'ts and Cans

If you would have some worth while plans,
You've got to watch your can'ts and cans.
You can't aim low and then rise high,
You can't succeed if you don't try.
You can't go wrong and come out right,
You can't love sin and walk in the light.
You can't throw time and means away,
And live sublime from day to day.

You can't be great if you'll be good.
And do God's will as all men should.
You can ascend life's upward road,
Although you bear a heavy load.

You can be honest, truthful clean,
By turning from the low and mean.
You can uplift the souls of men,
By words and deeds, or by your pen,

So watch your can'ts and watch your cans,
And watch your walks and watch your stands.
And watch the way you talk and act,
And do not take the false for fact.
And watch the things that mar or make,
For life is great to every man,
Who lives to do the best he can.

--- Anonymous

As your day progresses, remember that your life goes in the direction that you aim it. Are you aiming high with cans or low with cant's?

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 18)

People with tunnel vision are locked into one way of thinking and are likely to miss the right road. It's because they've closed their minds to any new options. We need the help of those who can enlarge our vision and broaden our perspective. Seek out the advice of those who know you, and have a wealth of experience. Build a network of advisers. Then be open to new ideas and be willing to weigh their suggestions carefully. Your plans will be stronger and more likely to succeed.

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Sunday, September 7, 2014


Being raised Catholic, we didn’t hear any stories about people who triumphed over adversity as a result of their faith in God. Catholic  school was all about religion and following rules.

I don’t think I noticed anything about faith in God (and that being the key to a better life) until I worked at a public aid hospital. For over a year, I did out patient rehab (speech therapy) with people. The majority of them were African American. Time and again, I heard their personal stories of adversity -- rape, drugs, prison. You name it, I heard it. A common belief for ALL of them was that “God would provide.” When they talked about God and his ability to help them, you KNEW they believed it. No matter the level of difficulty. God  would get them through it. Since the majority of my patients were black, I thought this was a black thing -- something exclusive to their race. There was something about their belief in God that I wanted to tap into. I just didn’t know how. This experience of blacks and their  deep faith in God, stayed with me for years.

Fast forward a  couple of years. I’m reacquainted with a colleague I worked with in the past. Our conversation turned to spirituality and faith. I told her my observations. She laughed and said, “Bob, this isn’t exclusive to black people. ALL people have this.” “No, I don’t know any other race that believes this as strongly as black people. You are black, help me understand.”

Being raised Baptist, she was privileged to hearing the stories or testimonies of people (in her church) who were helped by God. Many of these stories told of the miracles that God did for them. Since she had heard these stories since she was a little girl; they became an integral part of her life; thus increasing and solidifying her faith in God. “So hearing these stories ALL the time helped you understand faith and God?” I asked. “Yes,” she replied.

It’s only been recent that I understood what she meant. Hearing the true, heartfelt stories of people who have received God’s miracles are the best way to understand the POWER OF GOD and what he can do. I believe the best way to encourage anyone is to share your God-stories. I encourage you to do it any time you can.

Question for you: Have you been inspired by a person’s God-story? W hat did it do for you?

Focus: Communication, God, spirit

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Stop To Think

There are 2 ways to get through your busy day -- 1) Stop thinking, or 2) Stop to think. Many people choose #1. They fill their day with non-stop activity. On one level; they define themselves that way. On another level; they don't want to be alone (or with themselves).

The BEST way to get through your day is to choose #2. When you give yourself time to stop and think;  you give your brain the space it needs to "regroup" and make better decisions that enhance you emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Make time to stop and think; watch what happens!

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 17)

Our attitudes color our whole personality. We cannot always choose what happens to us, but we can choose our attitude toward each situation. The secret to a cheerful heart is filling our minds with thoughts that are true, pure and lovely; with thoughts that dwell on the good things in life.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A New Crop Of Friends

This whole “pause” thing has gotten me to look at many things that I’d never thought of before. One thing that I’m reevaluating is the number of friends I have. When I use the word friend I’m talking about people who have my back and would drop EVERYTHING if I needed them. Currently, I have 2 people that fit that description. The other people are acquaintances. They’re people that I might party, and have a good time with. They are not people that I would share my personal troubles to.

I don’t know about you but I believe it’s important to “clean house” with your friends. (I’ve never understood how some people were still tight with people they met in kindergarten. Do they still have things in common? Is their common core really that DEEP? Now, I’m not negating these relationships. I just find them interesting.) In the past, when I shared that I’d clean house, people judged me, “How cruel can you be Bob?” I must admit that I (sometimes) caved and kept friends that should’ve been DUMPED. I bought into that shit of “Maybe, I’m too harsh!” Let me say this, in retrospect, I should NOT have given them the 2nd chance. My instincts were right; the dead wood needed to be gone.

So, now I’m looking for some new quality (healthy) people to hang with. My new criteria? 1) Be open to self-disclosure about who you are. 2) Be available to share quality time with me. That means, “be present and not get distracted with answering texts and emails.” If you are gonna be in my space, turn off the distractions. They are fucking annoying and insulting. 3) Pick up the phone and invite me out! (I admit that I’m a good planner etc. but once again, that was a problem. “Let’s have Bob do the planning and make all the calls. He’s good at that!” FUCK THAT SHIT! NOT GONNA DO THAT ANYMORE! If you wanna be with me, organize it!

I think those 3 criteria are good for starters. I have to be careful with the “give and take” piece. In the past, I gave too much and didn’t get anything in return. I settled for “crumbs” (and compromised), when I wanted a “friendship feast.” I won’t do that anymore!

Question for you: Are there some dead-end friendships that need the “heave-ho?” Have you heaved, or are you still holding on to the dead wood?

Focus: Friendship, support, spirit, fun

Friday, August 15, 2014

Creating A Good Life

Many of us get caught up in busy-ness or acquiring things. In actuality, both can get us into serious trouble if we believe we're secure with them. When a crisis hits, we recognize what's really important!

Accept that you deserve BETTER -- things like kindness, honesty and integrity should be at the top of the list.

Every now and then, step out into the night and LQQK at the sky. Admire the stars and the moon. It will break you open to wisdom, patience and solitude.

Prioritizing your life to let go of the tangibles will bring in the intangible. It's the intangibles that create a good, better life.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 16)

What you feed your mind is just as important as what we feed our bodies. The kind of books we read, the people we talk with, the music we listen to, and the films we watch, are all part of our mental diet. Be discerning because what you feed your mind influences your TOTAL health and well-being. A strong desire to discover knowledge is a mark of wisdom.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

God's Daily Plan

While I worked with Mark (Trouble With Intimacy), he told me about something he’s done for years -- asked God how he should spend his day. When he told me about this, I thought it was unusual, yet cool, all at the same time. I mean, how many of us actually ask God, “Hey God, how do you want me to spend my /your day?” In my circle of friends and/or acquaintances; I’d say one person, Mark.

Many of us probably hit the ground running as soon as the alarm goes off -- coffee, kids, make lunch, car pool; the list is endless. But I wonder how our day(s) would evolve if we began each day with that question?

In Mark’s testimony; he shared that his day was more balanced. God would generally tell him what he should do (i.e. use the morning to catch up on phone calls and write your blog; in the afternoon, spend time developing proposal A for client B). This sounds great in theory but I wonder how many of us would CONSISTENTLY do it. I stress the word consistently because many of us get so busy with things. BTW-- Did I tell you how much I HATE that word??? UGH!

So, a couple of days ago, I tried Mark’s idea. I got up and asked God, “How do you want me to spend my/your day?” This is what I heard: “Spend your day in balance -- equal parts with me, parts in work, parts in kindness, parts in exercise, parts in joy/fun. Know that your steps are guided and you WILL not make a mistake.”

So far, so good!

Question for you: Is a consistent, daily connection with God, hard for you?

Focus: Balance, God, spirit, prayer, meditation, fun

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Four Observations

Want a better life? Pay attention to these observations:

  1. Your health is usually taken for granted. Actually, it's the most important thing you have. Without it; you can't do anything.
  2. Your family and friends are most important when you're facing a crisis.
  3. When you're in a crisis, you realize the importance of God.
  4. The things we think are important are actually small,  compared to other things like your health and well-being.
Start today to consider what's most important to you. You may be surprised at how your priorities change, and how much richer your life becomes.

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Friday, July 25, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 15)

When most people need advice, they go to their friends first because friends accept them and usually agree with them. But that is why they may not be able to help them with difficult problem. Our friends are so much like us that they may not have any answers we haven't already heard. Instead, we should seek out older and wiser people to advise us. Wise people have experienced a lot of life -- and have succeeded. They are not afraid to tell the truth.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Breaking Things Down

One of the skills that I’m most proud of is breaking a task down. It was something I learned years ago in my Educational Psychology class. As future teachers, we were taught the importance of breaking a task down into smaller taks. The purpose? When you have to teach anyone a task, you have to be familiar with the smaller taks that are involved. A good teacher , or life coach, looks at a task and thinks, “How can I break this BIG task down  into smaller tasks  so that one can be successful?”

Case in point >> About 20 years ago I made the decision to travel west for 6 weeks. As a teacher, I got 11 weeks off to regroup for a new class in the fall. While many of us welcome 11 weeks to regroup -- some of us dread it (especially those who need something to keep us busy and on task).

With the help of my counsellor, I started planning 6 months beforehand. I did things like buy luggage, call the Motor Club to plan my itinerary; get the car tuned up; get new tires etc. In addition, I had to psychologically prepare myself for something I had never  done before -- namely, travel alone.

The day finally arrived and as I left my surroundings, I grew anxious in how this would all work out. Needless to say, I was successful with my trip. It took me 6 months to process what I actually saw, and HOW I did it. Many times, we lose sight of our process. We do a task well, but have no idea on the small skills it took, to get us to the finish line.

I’m a big believer in the principle that our lives are in an “earth school.” We all come to earth to learn lessons that help us grow  emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. We grow by passing the tests, or challenges that come upon us. The skills we learn in one task (or life situation), can be helpful to us when we face the next life lesson. Think about what current life lesson you’re in. Is it overwhelming? Maybe you’ve lost sight of some of the skills (i.e patience, time management, organization) that you’ve used (and mastered) in the past that are important to this new situation. It’s just a matter of breaking things down.

Question for You: What current situation requires you to re-activate some skills you’ve used in the past?

Focus: Life, spirit, life skills

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Use Your Wisdom

Everyone of us has wisdom. It lurks deep within. The trick is to tap into it and use it. Wisdom involves quieting the mind. It allows your thoughts to come to you. When wisdom is present; it's as though clever and appropriate thoughts come out of no where. Using your wisdom makes your life easier and eases your stress level.

The next time you're struggling with something, quiet your mind and access your wisdom. You may be surprised at how quickly answers come to you. Your wisdom is a powerful tool. Learn to listen for it; and trust it!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 14)

Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes, it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps and schedules, and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Redefining Love

For the first 20 years of my life I didn’t hear the words, “I Love You!” or  “I’m proud of you!” or “You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.” I grew up in a “conditional” love environment. That’s “code” for “I’ll love you if you bring home good grades and are a good boy all the time.” In addition, my home life had a lot of  verbal and physical abuse in it. That’s code for “You’re a dumb motherfucker. I’m gonna beat the shit out of you.” When you observe others and see something different (i.e. kindness and affection), you wonder how to attain that. The first time I said “I Love You” to my aunt, she walked right past me like she didn’t hear it. She was on her way to work. When she left, I thought maybe I said the words wrong. I say that honestly. I learned later that my mom and her, associated love and affection, to being “hit.” Fucked, I know!

It took me a while to understand that when you grow up without those words (or that kind of validation) that it would be hard to say it/model it, in your family. I would think that if you come from an environment where you’ve never heard the words, that on a deep level you’d think, “I’m unlovable.” Since I didn’t grow up with a healthy model for love, I’ve struggled with the concept of what  love really is. As an adult, I’ve struggled with saying it; even writing it, on cards and letters.

In counseling, I learned a new model for what respect, kindness and validation are. In addition, I learned the importance  of emotional intimacy and disclosure. I’ve applied it to colleagues, friends and students. Some friends have misunderstood my actions for love. I’m stuck here because I BELIEVE that ALL people need to be treated with dignity, respect and kindness. These are basic human traits that we ALL need.

Many of the women I know have taken my emotional intimacy/disclosure and have “run with it.” I don’t mean that in a good way. One of the patterns I noticed (and subsequently stopped), is that many of these women were in relationships with men that didn’t provide it. They’d make a point of being with me to “suck it out of me.” Then, they’d run back to their husbands and boyfriends, and “carry on as usual.” That’s code for “I short changed myself with this guy. He doesn’t have a clue about being intimate but I’m stuck. More importantly, he has a big dick and fucks well!” (I’m serious here.)  It took me years to understand that being “love starved” was universal. It was a matter of looking within to “get” why I was so frustrated.

Since this has been an issue for me my entire life, I’ve decided to do something healthy -- to create my own definition (and say the words,”I love you” to people who fit it). So far, I’ve  decided on the following criteria: 1) Someone who has my back (genuinely) and treats me kindly. 2) Someone who takes time for me and builds me up with emotional support. 3) Someone who challenges me to be a better man or human being. 4) Someone who wants to be with me because my presence (and energy) brings them up. 5) Someone who listens to me without judgment or bias. 6) Someone who trusts my emotional closeness and won’t take it and run, (leaving me empty and abandoned). 7) Someone who trusts their emotional closeness with me. 8) Someone who I truly feel blessed by. 9) Someone who is introspective and observant of people’s behavior(s). 10) Someone who is on a spiritual quest. WOW! That’s a lot.

I like my new definition and have recently told someone, “I Love You” based on its criteria.
You know what? It felt odd, yet right, all at the same time!

Question for You: Do you have trouble with expressing affection?

Focus: Emotional Intimacy

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Actual Cost

I don't know when or where it happened but I started understanding the VALUE of the time I spent with people. Spending quality time with people who enhance my life, means more to me that anything.

I wanted to see if I was the only one who felt like this. I started asking the question and found out that others felt the same way. It didn't matter how old you were.

The bottom line is that we're ALL on earth  for a finite amount of time. All our hearts are ticking. We don't know when they'll stop. We HAVE to make use of every day as it'll be our last.

Making use of your time is what really matters. You can't put a price on it.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 13)

When you are faced with a situation that is beyond your control, ask yourself What steps can I take toward a solution? A few small steps may be just what is needed, to begin the chain of events that lead to SUCCESS!

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

"Balls Out" Days!

I don’t know about you but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve recognized the importance of maximizing my day. I want to fill it with love, joy, kindness, compassion, fun and risk.

Two people taught me the importance of doing this -- my aunt Emily and Princess Diana. My aunt died from colon cancer when I was 31 years old. She had 6 months left of work to retire, and take it easy. She NEVER made it to her “finish line.” It took me close to a year to get over her death and get control back in my life. Her greatest lesson (for me) was to live each day to the fullest. Don’t wait til your retirement, or til a situation gets better, before you live your life. You could be dead tomorrow.

Princess Diana was another person  who taught me this. In a blink of an eye, she was killed in a car crash. Gone in her 40’s. The lesson for both my aunt and Princess Diana? Turn up the volume of your life and live it passionately!

Currently, I’m choosing to have “balls-out” days. Think of a man walking around exposing his balls, er  . . . testicles. On one level, it’s pretty BOLD; on another level, it’s vulnerable. Both are important for an authentic life. Each day presents a challenge. If you want to have an authentic (or better life), you have to take a risk and test yourself -- sometimes you gotta be bold and tell it like it is. Sometimes, you have to be vulnerable and do the same.

I look at my life this way >> I’ve paid my dues. I deserve more “Balls-Out” days that make me feel better. How about you?

Question for you: What situations are getting your attention to put your “balls” out there?

Focus: Self-worth, spirit, communication, risk

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Don't Procrastinate!

Every project you do takes a certain amount of time -- painting your bedroom or paying your bills. Usually, you can guesstimate how much time you'll need to get the job done.

BUT, if you're a procrastinator; that theory goes to hell in a handbasket. Procrastinators sabotage time and projects. If they're clueless, it takes a while to recognize,  Hey, I'm wasting a LOT of time here and that HAS to stop!  If they KNOW they procrastinate; well, they HAVE to establish their priorities AND have to manage their time better. BOTH situations can be rectified, PROVIDED that they are committed to changing their patterns.

Get in the habit of managing your time BETTER. Don't procrastinate!

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 12)

Taking credit for the accomplishments of others indicates that pride is controlling your life. When you notice your pride is taking control, take immediate steps to put it in check by giving credit to those who deserve it.

Each of us is creating a reputation in developing personal qualities by which we will be remembered. How would you summarize your life right now?

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

A New Anthem

One of the lessons I'm learning throughout this "pause" period is taking things 1 day at a time, and turning things over to God. Both are challenging. By nature, I'm a multi-tasker. I'm planning for things 2 months from now; not even focused on the now. being in the moment is a challenge. When I notice my mind racing, I step back and tell myself, "Slow down and breathe." This situation (and the way I'm handling it), clearly shows me I have a LOT of ground work to cover. And this "turn this over to God" thing? Frankly, I'm in the 1 step forward, 2 steps back, model.

As I said in my first piece (Intention), I'm in circumstances that I can't control. Spiritually and supernaturally, God has created these circumstances to keep me in check. I have to tell you that this IS a roller coaster ride. So many buttons are being pushed. These buttons point to issues that I wanted to control (and took pride in). Turning something like this, over to God seems good in theory, but it's much harder, er challenging, to do in person. I don't know about you but God and the Holy Spirit speak to me through different media. Currently, music and books have been HIS chosen voice.

Many months ago, I prayed for, and deeply wanted, some new friendships. There was someone in my zumba class that (I thought) was an answer from God. When I didn’t receive what I BOLDLY prayed for, I went back and prayed again. No response from God. I thought, “Was that a no, or a not yet, response, God?” The roller coaster ride went on for a couple of days until IT happened. I was in the car talking to God; (oblivious to my surroundings) when all of a sudden, I heard “Let It Be” by The Beatles. I thought, “I can’t control this outcome. This song tells me to Let it Be. The answer will come.” In that situation, the answer was a “NO.” The circumstances changed negatively. In hind sight, I’m glad the door closed and the answer was NO.

Let It Be has come back many times (in different circumstances) to tell me "Bob, you've done all you could. God is taking care of this. Let It Be."

This morning, I found a quiet room at the health club and talked with God. I asked him to send me “Let It Be” (my new spiritual anthem), when He saw that I was anxious with my current/future circumstances. In a way, I’m glad God has control, because I know I’m learning a new behavior, which is challenging me to find my “real self,” and to operate in less controlling, less stressful ways.

Question For You: What current situations have forced you to “Let It Be”?

Focus: God, self-control

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Three R's

Many of us know about the 3 R's-- reading, writing and arithmetic. Recently, I came across an idea that incorporates those 3 R's but from a business model -- responsive, receptive and reasonable.

Responsive means that you act appropriately with an issue. You respond with perspective and wisdom instead of a knee-jerk reaction. When you're responsive, you factor in many variables instead of just one.

Receptive means you're open to ideas and suggestions. When you're receptive, you listen, THEN decide.

Reasonable suggests the ability to see things fairly without being self-serving. It's the ability to see your contribution to an issue, and the willingness to learn from other points of view. You place yourself in another person's shoes and walk in them for a while. Reasonable people are well liked and respected because they listen. They don't judge. They accept you.

When you are responsive, receptive and reasonable, things fall into place and take care of itself.

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Divine Appointments

We often think that events "just happen" to us. God (the Universe) may use common occurrences to lead us to where we need to be. It's important to evaluate all situations as Divine Appointments designed to shape our lives. Think of all the good and bad that has happened to you. Can you see a purpose to it?

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Person's Title

I learned 2 valuable lessons after reading What Color Is Your Parachute. The first one related to the book; namely, how to turn your interviews around so you stay in your personal power. The 2nd lesson was about how a person’s title can cause you to give up your personal power.

Many years ago, I interviewed for a staff position at a prestigious rehab facility in Chicago. The facility carried a lot of notoriety. Anyone with a brain would have loved to work there. I was one of those people; until I went through their process. It lasted 3 hours. Every 30 minutes you met with another person of the team for a 1-1 interview. Each member  had an opportunity to ask anything from soup to nuts. I like interviews so this was right up my alley. But, it was the interview with the medical doctor that taught me my most important lesson -- NOT BUYING INTO A TITLE! I remember the moment vividly, “Bob, your resume is stellar. You have so many skills . . . however,  you don’t have exactly what we’re looking for.” (What happened next was a result of reading the book and growing into my man-balls.)

“Really?” I said, “That’s interesting. Can I ask you a question?” “Sure!” he said. “When you applied for this job, did you have all the skills that were needed?” “No” he said. “Would you say that when you interviewed; the team saw something in you that was fresh and innovative and they took a chance with you?” “Yes” he said. “Well, I think you just made my point. When you interviewed, the team saw something in you that warranted them taking a risk. At the beginning of this interview, you told me I had exceptional skills but I didn’t have everything that was needed. As the team took a chance with you; I’m asking for the same opportunity. Give me a month with someone to shadow me, and I WILL have everything needed for this position. All people need to be taught the system. People who work at McDonald’s are taught how to fry a burger and wash the floor. I’m asking for the same opportunity. I think we’re done here; aren’t we?”

The doctor was stunned with my response. In fact, he didn’t say a word. I got up, shook his hand, and graciously thanked him for his time. Needless to say, I didn’t get the job but I learned a valuable lesson in how people buy into titles.

Tom and Jim (not their real names) were pastors from 2 churches. Both came from different walks of life. Tom was older and came into his ministry after being in the real world. Jim was raised in the church. Tom came into my life professionally. Jim came in personally. In both cases, I brought up the subject of titles and challenged them to see whether people respected them for their titles, OR their authenticity and the integrity that came with it. In Tom’s case, he tested the validity of how people interacted with him. He saw that when he walked through his life WITHOUT his title, that people valued him for his authentic self. He learned that his title meant nothing if people were seduced by it. He saw this quickly.

On the other hand, Jim did not. He used his title for leverage and could not make the connection that Tom did. I assumed that no one in his church ever challenged his title. Therefore, how could he see himself differently.

My point is this: Titles are earned. TRUE integrity and respect come with a title. Think about it. When you come into the world, you are announced by your gender. The doctor says, “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” not, “It’s a doctor!” or “It’s a policeman!”

Don’t give over your personal power to a person’s title. They pee and poop like everyone else.

Question for you: Have you bought into a person’s title? What was the result?

Focus: Personal power, entitlement

Saturday, May 10, 2014

It's About Presence

Years ago, a client asked me, "Can you teach me how to have charisma?" I told him he already had it. He just had to figure out when he was in it, so that he could make it stronger. Charisma is presence!

Presence is difficult to define. It's actually easier to describe. You can tell when someone has it. A person with presence is said to be  charismatic. People are drawn to his/her energy.

A strong presence is a matter of being comfortable with who you are and completely absorbed in the moment. When you have a strong presence, people sense that you're FULLY present.

When you have presence, people are drawn to you. They can relax when they're in your space. They enjoy your company and feel your sincerity. Your presence makes them feel IMPORTANT. They respect your boundaries and your wishes. They listen to what you have to say.

The way to strengthen your presence is to understand its value. When you're with someone, be with them. Once you experience its value and effects, there'll be no turning back. You'll be HOOKED!

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Monday, May 5, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 11)

Sometimes, we let others' values and actions dictate our attitude and behavior. Have you ever made a wrong choice because you wanted to be like everyone else? Be careful that the values of your friends doesn't pull you away from what is right.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Revisiting "The Purpose Driven Life"

I don’t know about you but I’ve got certain books that will never leave my personal library. These are books that impacted me in a HUGE way! When I come back to a “favorite” a couple of years down the road, I usually learn something new. Maybe it’s the current circumstances I’m in, or wisdom. In any case, re-reading a book impacts (and inspires) me all over  again.

The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren is one of my favorites. I read the book the first time, years ago. I can’t really say why I read it, maybe it was “trendy.” I have a tendency to do that. I re-read this book according to Rick’s advice. There are 40 chapters in this book. He suggests that you read 1 chapter a day and concentrate not only on the theme(s) but also the references to the Bible, and lastly, questions to consider. Reading the book according to this schedule gives the reader an opportunity to process the questions and themes that Rick poses throughout this great literary piece.

This is my “take” on rereading The Purpose Driven Life. Each one of us is born (and comes to earth) with a purpose or a talent. Our talents are “person-specific.” That means that no one does the talent or skill better than you. Your talents are as specific as your finger prints. With ALL the people in the world; there are no 2 people who have the same finger prints. Your job is to figure out your purpose or talent.

God  created you on purpose. You aren’t an accident. Just as Jesus came down to earth to fulfill a purpose; so do you. One of Jesus’ purposes was to teach others a better way to live. He did this by example. Through it all, he maintained dignity, respect, kindness and love. In addition, he inspired and instructed 12 men to carry out his purpose or vision. Jesus’ purpose was to teach others a better way to live. When he realized his purpose was complete, he died and left a legacy!

Since we are all created by God; we must remember  that we are a part of his FAMILY. We are to follow in Jesus’  footsteps. He was the prime example on how all of us are to live.

When you understand your purpose; when you understand that you are here because God created you to help him, and when you turn your life over to living out your purpose (according to his will); you are living The Purpose Driven Life!

Question for you: Do you know your purpose? Are you using it for the betterment of others?

Focus: God, life purpose, spirit

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Confront Gently

You can't be in joy or at peace when you live stringently! When you are stringent, things are absolute. You make decisions that are black and white. Either one decision or another. You don't incorporate the gray areas because you don't know how. You don't have the tools. But there comes a time when you HAVE to change the pattern. That's when you confront the situation and yourself. But, when you're starting off, you have to confront gently. The key here is to be firm, gentle and respectful. Approach the confrontation with the assumption that there is a solution and you WILL work things out. When you approach confrontations in a gentle manner, it produces effective results and keeps your stress level down.

The next time you reach a confrontational crossroad, confront it gently.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Leadership And You (Part 10)

When you have an important decision to make, weigh the positives and negatives carefully, considering everyone who might be affected by your choice. When you want something badly enough, it is difficult  to see the potential problems. Don't discount the negatives. Unless you have a plan to handle each one, they will cause you great difficulty later.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

My God Time

This “pause” in my life has gotten me to look at my priorities. To be truthful, (in the past), I have prayed/connected to God but not in earnest. That means not as consistently as I need to. I’ve reevaluated things and determined that God needs to be my power source. Joyce Meyer and Rick Warren both believe that we are nothing without our Spiritual Power Source: God, Jesus, Holy Spirit. Joyce and Rick draw a neat parallel when they describe a laptop. The laptop needs a recharge to keep going. If not, it won’t work. This concept  is the same with God. In order to be equipped to deal with EVERYTHING our day entails; we must connect to our power source. Here is how I’m doing it:

5:45 a.m. -- For 15 minutes, I thank God. I always start my day with gratitude. I thank HIM for my health, home, car, friends, etc.

6-7 -- I walk into my office and write in my prayer journal. I set my prayer intention with HIM and usually meditate/process a Bible passage. Once my prayer journal is done, I do stuff for my company.

7-7:30 -- I watch 30 minutes of Joyce Meyer and her message on God and The Holy Spirit. I crochet when I watch. It relaxes me.

7:30-7:50. Breakfast and prepare for Zumba.

7:50 -9:45 -- Workout and shower.

10-10;20. I head to McDonald’s for my diet Coke and spiritual reading. The reading consists of various authors. The “theme” is usually spiritual.

10:30-11:30 -- Head out to the library and relax. I also write professionally.

12-1 -- Lunch

1-4:30 -- Work in office. If I’m out and about, I visit an adoration chapel and read something spiritual.

5-5:30 -- I take a bubble bath. Once again, I read something spiritual. I also process my day.

5:30-11 -- Chill with t.v.. Before I go to bed, I take out my gratitude journal and remember what I’m grateful for.

So, my God-time is about 3-4 times throughout the day. I’ve been doing it for a couple of months now. This schedule has changed my life.  I find that if I have not connected to God, I get grumpy and anxious.

Question For You: What issues do you need more God-time for?

Focus:  God and Communication, Spirit

Monday, April 7, 2014

Leave The Grumbling

Are you a grumbler; a sourpuss? Are you ALWAYS looking at problems? Is this you?

Grumblers blame life and circumstances for their sour attitude. They validate their negativity by pointing to their problems. Grumblers don't see that their vision of life stems from their own thoughts and beliefs.

Charles Schultz's characters' Charlie Brown and Linus are a great example of grumblers and/or complainers. While frowning, Charlie Brown explains to Linus that if you want to be depressed, you have to stand in that posture. He goes on to say that if you stand up straight and lift your head and shoulders; you wouldn't remain depressed because you changed the posture (or behavior). If you're a grumbler, change your posture (or position in life). Watch what happens!

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